Issue 07 | April 2019
FULBRIGHT FUTURE Scholars
Neurology | Public Health | Microbiology | Biochemistry
The Fulbright Program The Fulbright Program is the flagship foreign exchange scholarship program of the United States of America, aimed at increasing binational collaboration, cultural understanding, and the exchange of ideas. Born in the aftermath of WWII, the program was established by Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946 with the ethos of turning ‘swords into ploughshares’, whereby credits from the sale of surplus U.S. war materials were used to fund academic exchanges between host countries and the U.S. Since its establishment, the Fulbright Program has grown to become the largest educational exchange program in the world, operating in over 160 countries. In its seventy-year history, more than 370,000 students, academics, and professionals have received Fulbright Scholarships to study, teach, or conduct research, and promote bilateral collaboration and cultural empathy. Since its inception in Australia in 1949, the Fulbright Commission has awarded over 5,000 scholarships, creating a vibrant, dynamic, and interconnected network of Alumni.
Our future is not in the stars but in our own minds and hearts.
Creative leadership and liberal education, which in fact go together, are the first requirements for a hopeful future for humankind. Fostering these—leadership, learning, and empathy between cultures—was and remains the purpose of the international scholarship program that I was privileged to sponsor in the U.S. Senate over forty years ago. " Senator J. William Fulbright The Price of Empire
The Fulbright of the Future
Measuring Athletic Identity - Turner Block
Breaking the Drought - Simon Jankowski
Seasonal Vistas - Victoria Reynolds
Your Fulbright Mission - Aiden Warren
The Princeton Paradox - Pearse Buchanan
Making the Most of Massachusetts - Jessica Kretzmann
Cover Image: courtesy James Hamilton
Fulbright Alumni Updates
January - April 2019
Julia Back (2007, Deakin University) co-published a new study in Nature Conservation on the effects of human interaction and ecotourism on an Australian fur seal colony in Victoria.
Michelle Rourke (2017, Griffith University to Georgetown University) published a new article in The Milbank Quarterly analysing the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework, a pathogen-specific international access and benefit-sharing instrument that enables fairer distribution of vaccines and antivirals created using influenza viruses in developing countries.
Peter Newman (2006, Murdoch University to University of Virginia) published a new article, The Trackless Tram: Is It the Transit and City Shaping Catalyst We Have Been Waiting For?, discussing the potential of trackless tram technology to transform the public transport landscape in the Journal of Transportation Technologies.
Carole Fink (2003, Ohio State University to University of New South Wales) published a new book, West Germany and Israel: Foreign Relations, Domestic Politics, and the Cold War. Described by one commentator as "a masterful narrative of the development of formal relations between Israel and the Federal Republic of Germany", the work seeks to reveal the underlying issues that shaped the fraught Germany-Israel relationship.
Pearse Buchanan (2017, University of Tasmania to Princeton University) co-authored a new article for the Geosciences Model Development journal, entitled Ocean carbon and nitrogen isotopes in CSIRO Mk3L-COAL version 1.0: a tool for palaeoceanographic research.
Barrie Pittock (1963, University of Melbourne to the National Center for Atmospheric Research) was awarded a medal of the Order of Australia, for his "significant role in ensuring the identity, culture, history and citizenship of Indigenous Australians is recognised".
Liz Dennis (1981, CSIRO to Stanford University) was appointed a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AC) for "eminent service to science as a researcher and academic in the area of genomics and plant development, and to professional organisations."
David Whiteman (2006, Queensland Institute of Medical Research to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center) was awarded a medal of the Order of Australia for “significant service to medical research in the field of cancer epidemiology.”
Robert McLean (1968, University of New England to Columbia University) co-authored a new book, Bulletproof Problem Solving, outlining a seven-step systematic approach to creative problem solving in any industry.
Chloe Hooper (1997, University of Melbourne to Columbia University) was nominated for the 2019 Stella Prize for her true crime book, The Arsonist, which looks at the investigation into Victoria's 2009 'Black Saturday' bushfires.
Armin Moczek (2017, Indiana University to CSIRO) recieved a National Science Foundation grant to study evolutionary development, using dung beetles to contrast two ways that new traits emerge in species.
Peter Dean (2015, Australian National University to Georgetown University) and Stephan Frühling (2017 Australian National University to Georgetown University) co-edited a new book, After American Primacy, bringing together leading experts to examine the future of Australian defence policy.
Fulbright Events Recap
January - April 2019
2019 Fulbright Gala Presentation Dinner - The 2019 cohort of Fulbright Scholars were announced at a Gala Dinner and ceremony at Parliament House, Canberra on 28 February. The event included a keynote speech from astronaut Col Pamela Melroy, as well as remarks from Australian Government Minister for Defence, the Hon. Christopher Pyne, ECA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Academic Programs Caroline Casagrande, and U.S. ChargĂŠ d'affaires James Carouso. 2018 keynote speaker and Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board Chairman Jeff Bleich returned for the event to congratulate this year's awardees, and introduce Col Melroy.
Dollars and Data for Public Health - Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Applied Public Policy, Prof Donald Shepard delivered several public lectures in Adelaide through his scholarship sponsors Flinders University and Carnegie Mellon University Australia. 6
Prof Shepard is currently collaborating with the South Australian government on an economic evaluation and financing options for the new sterile insect program, designed to maintain the stateâ€™s agricultural economy.
Heavens, What a Mess! Understanding and Dealing with the Problem of Space Debris - Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Advanced Science & Technology, Prof Bill Schonberg travelled around Australia to deliver public lectures on his research into space junk and penetration mechanics, including a guest seminar as part of the Department of Defence's prestigious Black Box Lecture Series.
TEDxFulbrightAdelaide - Fulbright alumni from across South Australia got together in March at the University of South Australia to discuss their research through the TEDx theme, inspired by Senator Fulbright's words on “Exchange and Aspirations”. Full gallery of photos can be found here.
The Fabric of War - Fulbright Scholar Madelyn Shaw travelled to universities in the ACT and Queensland to speak on the role of Australia's wool trade in 20th century conflicts. In collaboration with Griffith Film School’s Professor Trish FitzSimons, Madelyn is working on a project titled Fabric of War: The Global Wool Trade From Crimea to Korea, tracing how wool exports in Australia and New Zealand contributed to the industrialisation of wool textile production in Europe and the U.S., and how both shaped global military needs and new fibre technologies.
Fulbright WA Reception - The Commission was hosted at the residence of Ms Rachel Cook, U.S. Consul General for Western Australia, to celebrate the beneficiaries of U.S. exchange, and announce a special enrichment award for two of the 2019 Fulbright Scholars. Ms Holly Ransom and Ms Alice Gardoll received the Inaugural Fulbright Eleanor Roosevelt awards from special guest the Hon Julie Bishop MP.
THE FULBRIGHT OF THE FUTURE In 2018, the Australian-American Fulbright Commission announced the Fulbright Future Scholarships - a new program of awards, funded through a generous donation from Sydney-based philanthropic organisation, The Kinghorn Foundation.
The Fulbright Future Scholarships were created out of a desire to facilitate and support research that would directly result in tangible benefit to the lives and livelihoods of Australians. These awards are the most comprehensive ever offered by the Commission, with benefits including full tuition funding at any U.S. institution, as well as travel and generous living stipend.
In order to qualify for the new awards, applicants were asked to convey precisely how an investment in their proposed research projects would potentially benefit Australia and Australians. Expert panels of academics, professionals, and government delegates judged the shortlisted applications, and the inaugural cohort of 32 Fulbright Future Scholars were chosen. We spoke to four of the new awardees to find out how their research will affect Australia long into the future.
CHERISH EVERY MOMENT DR MICHAEL FAHEY
â€œThe days are long, but the years are shortâ€? wrote the neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, as he lay dying, stricken with terminal lung cancer at the age of just 38. He reminds us that every minute matters. Every interaction is important. But how do we make the seconds we have count?
r Michael Fahey is no stranger to hardship, and he understands well the value of every healthy breath. In his own words Michael has led a blessed life, full of opportunity and free of illness, poverty and war.
“People tell me later about the shoes I was wearing when I told them bad news. They recount the way the lamp cast shadows in the corner and the noise the vacuum made outside the room. They hear the sound of the clock.”
Yet as a physician and the Head of Paediatric Neurology at Monash Medical Centre, Michael stands at the nexus between other peoples’ lives and the tragedies that can potentially change them forever.
Moments like this can break someone or, at the very least, push them to a different career. For Michael, though, they are just reminders to make every second count. For Michael, the challenges of medicine are worth it because it connects him with people, and he can share their joys as well as their burdens.
He has had to make the long walk from the trauma centre to inform a family that their teenage daughter didn’t make it. He has had to make the choice for the young man crippled in an accident, when saving a life means sacrificing a patient’s ability to walk. He has put his own heart, his own mental wellbeing on the line countless times for the sake of helping others, sometimes unsuccessfully.
“What I realised during residency, was that what I really loved [about medicine] was the people. How lucky am I to share a fragment of life with people who moments before were strangers? Sometimes the interaction is glancing but sometimes the impact of the time we spend together is indelible.”
And of course, along with the challenges, there are moments that make it all worthwhile. “I recall, a young girl approached me in the hospital coffee shop. She looked a lot like my youngest. ‘My mum says you looked after me when I was sick’ she said. I looked at her mother. 'Of course. Claudia? I’m Michael. You probably don’t remember me.' But I remember her. “A random genetic change led to leukaemia before she was born. It is literally one in a million. But I was there. I recall the hours I fretted by her cot with her parents, counting her breaths. I can picture it now. She shouldn’t be alive. “But I got to be there when she opened her eyes for the first time and smiled.”
THE GENOMIC REVOLUTION Michael’s work eventually drew him to neurogenetic disorders such as Cerebral Palsy (CP), and this is how his path led to the Fulbright Future Scholarship. While it is a relatively underresearched congenital disorder, the impacts of Cerebral Palsy are devastating – on the patient, their family, and on society itself. It is in fact more common than childhood cancer, eating disorders, and spinal cord injuries, with over 800,000 cases diagnosed in Australia and the U.S. annually, and this number is growing by close to 10,000 every year.
CP deeply affects every aspect of the patient’s life, often dramatically so. Three-quarters of children with CP suffer chronic pain; half experience intellectual disabilities; a third are unable to walk and a quarter cannot talk. Epilepsy, blindness, and deafness are also common symptoms. It is a lifelong condition, and its disability only increases with age. The ensuing disability and costs of care incur significant health and long-term social expenses, with an average yearly cost of over $40,000 per individual.
Lifelong care, loss of income and tax revenue losses from CP cost the Australian and American economies an estimated $87 billion each year. Despite this, there are still no therapies that directly address the cause of CP. Michael believes that a better understanding of how genetic factors contribute to medical complications can lead to improved treatment of CP, and possibly even a cure. He has been training and researching in the field for nearly two decades, amassing data, collaborative research contacts, and valuable insights into gene function.
“When I started training in the field, there was a lot of discussion about how the human genome project would change medicine. I had hoped that in my working life we could use these lessons to change the way medicine could provide therapy for people with disease. “As cliché as it sounds, I set out with the broad idea of ‘helping people’ and ‘giving back’, without much of an idea of what that might look like. I’ve refined this idea over the years to helping people by discovering the genetic causes for inherited neurological diseases, including cerebral palsy, and developing treatments for them.” In 2017, Michael and colleagues established the International Cerebral Palsy Genomics Consortium (ICPGC) with the aim of accelerating progress in cerebral palsy genomic research. ICPCG connects CP genomicsfocussed physicians and investigators across the world, facilitating research collaborations, and providing a global shared resource for storing and accessing precise clinical data. The goal is an integrated, collaborative international network of clinicians, researchers, and advocates, all working to unlock the molecular basis of cerebral palsy using genomics and related tools.
Their efforts should also serve to facilitate the development of novel therapies to improve the health and quality of life of individuals with cerebral palsy. For Michael’s Fulbright Future Scholarship, he will travel to the University of Arizona’s Neurogenetic Laboratory to work with Professor Michael Kruer, who is at the forefront of research into genetic causes of CP. Together, the two Michaels will combine their impressive research networks to create a stronger, more integrated and collaborative research effort to discover new techniques to diagnose, understand, treat, and ultimately cure this devastating condition.
“The scope of what the Fulbright scholarship provides is boundless. "In the short term I’ll draw more information into the ICPGC dataset from around Australia and visit sites in the U.S. to establish links for their involvement. With the CSIRO we will establish new ways of analysing MRI data to help recognise features of genetic CP. “Beyond this, I plan to take this data to model how the genes influence brain development and function. That will inform new ways of treating neurodevelopmental conditions.”
Photo - Donna Squire, Deakin University
LEAPS AND BOUNDS DR ERIN HOARE
Professional netball career with the Melbourne Vixens and New South Wales Swifts. Professional Australian Rules Football career with the Geelong Cats. Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of Sydney. PhD in community-based prevention of mental illness from Deakin University, Melbourne. Research stints and conferences in Glasgow, Bethesda, Oxford.
his may sound like a description of the career trajectories of at least three very successful people. Incredibly, however, this is just part of the fascinating, complex tapestry that is Dr Erin Hoare’s career thus far. Erin, who is yet to turn 30 and bound to cast a distinct pall of inferiority over anyone who glances at her CV, seems to be destined for greatness. But it wasn’t always so. In fact, from a young age Erin struggled with her own personal demons. “I’ve been interested in psychology and human behaviour since I was a kid, but my real interest in mental health developed as a teenager; I experienced chronic anxiety, and was aware that this and other mental disorders such as depression were exceptionally common among young people, but saw and received little information for as to how these conditions could be helped.
"This motivated me to pursue health science and then a PhD, looking into novel approaches to treating or preventing such conditions.” Growing up in a very active family, Erin naturally gravitated towards sport and physical activity. Being exceptionally tall (she towers at 194cm) was certainly an advantage in her first foray into semi-professional sport -- netball -and Erin soon became a force to be reckoned with as a star shooter. Yet it was the power of positive mental health through team sports that stood out to Erin, most of all. “I was able to gain insight into the protective benefits of being involved in sport -relationship building, resilience, goal setting, the physiological consequences of physical activity -- and believed that physical activity and other lifestyle behaviours such as diet and sleep had untapped potential to leverage for mental health. “We know these behaviours are closely tied to our physical health, which is also connected to our mental wellbeing, it was logical to connect diet, physical activity and mental health.”
Erin later switched to Australian Rules football -- another sport where she could take advantage of her height and killer reach – and continued to make a name for herself as a fiercely talented athlete. Her interest in mental health research was too strong to ignore though, and so she maintained a balance with her sport commitments and research. After earning a Master’s degree and, later, a PhD Erin wanted to take her work to the next level. Visits to the UK and U.S. for research and conferences taught her the value of collaboration, which in turn led her to applying for the Fulbright Future Scholarship. “The best learning and understanding comes from collaborating outside one’s own expertise, and being open to network domestically and internationally to ensure that we can ‘join forces’ so to speak, rather than working in silo. This, combined with Fulbright’s commitment to fostering cultural experiences, alongside research and academic experiences, motivated me to apply for the scholarship.”
AN INTERGENERATIONAL INQUIRY Through Fulbright, Erin plans to work with experts at Boston University’s School of Public Health, home to the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) - a research project 70 years in the making. In 1948, approximately 5,000 residents of Framingham, Massachusetts were invited to participate in FHS. Aged from 28 to 62 years, the subjects were selected as a populationbased random sample of households in Framingham and asked to undergo a medical history, physical examination and medical tests every two years.
Thanks to the lengthy lifespan of the FHS, the study now includes the children and grandchildren of original participants, meaning that it is possible to investigate the long-term and generational causes and consequences of health and disease. Researchers also broadened its scope over time to reflect the ethnic diversity of the community by including a dedicated sampling of participants with African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, Pacific Islander, and Native American ethnicities.
Images (from top-left): Erin during her time with the Melbourne Vixens (image courtesy Netball Australia); Erin's height and power proved invaluable to the Geelong Cats, too (image courtesy Geelong Cats).
Erin recieves her Fulbright Scholarship from U.S. Charge d'affaires, James Carouso
Over the 70 years since FHS began, a plethora of fascinating data on a broad range of lifestyle behavioural, psychological, and physiological factors has been captured. Erin plans to examine this data to further expand her research into the longitudinal relationships between diet, physical activity and depression.
Erinâ€™s goal is to physically quantify the protective potential of adhering to a healthful diet pattern and engaging in physical activity, in the hope that others can experience the same benefits that she herself has known for years. (Sheâ€™s also super excited to support the Boston Celtics and Red Sox, but not necessarily for health-related reasons.)
MATERIAL PLEASURES DR SIMON COOK
BILL GATES WANTS SAFER SEX
n late 2013, the Gates Foundation put out a call to scientists to develop a new contraceptive device that “significantly preserves or enhances pleasure, in order to improve uptake and regular use” as part of their Grand Challenges Explorations research grant scheme. At the same time, biomedical engineers at the University of Wollongong had been developing new materials called ‘hydrogels’ with the aim of creating more lifelike prosthetics, tissue engineering and implantable medical devices. Flexible, strong, and highly modifiable, hydrogels make for an ideal biomedical device, but would the porous material be able to prevent the transmission of sexuallytransmitted infections (STIs)? 14
Microbiologist Dr Simon Cook was approached to help the team find out. Their aim: to revolutionise the condom, and permanently alter our perception of safe sex.
But why reinvent the wheel? Well, the fact is that condom use is actually in decline, and a closer look at this issue reveals its staggering scale: Each year, approximately 358 million people are diagnosed with STIs. Additionally, there are 85 million unplanned pregnancies, 21.6 million unsafe abortions, and nearly 300,000 maternal deaths from complications related to risky pregnancy and birth worldwide. Despite extensive resources being provided to education, treatment, testing and awareness of STIs, data trends reveal that more and more people are eschewing affordable, accessible, and readily-available contraception devices such as condoms. Why is this the case?
Hydrogel is a macromolecular polymer gel with some very unique properties.
THE LONG ROAD TO LATEX The invention of modern day contraceptives didn’t occur overnight. In fact, the earliest forms of birth control date back to 1550 BCE, where the Egyptian Ebers Papyrus documented attempts to prevent pregnancy through honey, acacia leaves and lint. In Ancient Greece, the plant silphium was purportedly such an effective contraceptive that it was harvested to extinction. Medieval Europe saw lily root and rue combined to create a makeshift birth control paste, and women in the Middle Ages were encouraged to tie weasel testicles around their thighs to prevent pregnancy (although in retrospect, it might be tricky to speculate on the efficacy of this particular practice). The first evidence of a condom-like device was discovered in Dudley Castle, England and dated back to 1640. These small ‘sheathes’ made of animal gut were likely used to prevent the spread of STIs during the English Civil War.
The Industrial Revolution finally saw the discovery and development of rubber, which was flexible, strong and non-porous - an ideal material for contraception. Today, most condoms are still made of latex-- rubber suspended in water-- using the method invented in 1920. Thanks to advances in automation (as well as increasingly progressive attitudes towards birth control) they are widely accessible, even in remote and developing communities. Yet condoms still face criticism for not being 100% effective, and for potentially dampening sexual pleasure. Additionally, sexual educators have reported a phenomenon known as ‘condom fatigue’ or ‘prevention fatigue’, whereby younger people have become desensitised to the ‘safe sex’ message, and have begun consciously avoiding contraceptives.
From top left: a linen 'sheathe', circa 1600; the Egyptian Ebers papyrus; a lithograph of the Italian adventurer Casanova examining an early condom.
FROM ANNOYANCE TO APHRODISIAC Simon, now a lead investigator at Swinburne University of Technology, believes that their team’s new device, dubbed “Project GELdom” represents the next evolution in contraceptive technology. “What if we could make a condom that people couldn’t wait to try? Producing a condom that people actually want to use would revolutionise the definition of safe sex, enhance family planning, sexual health strategies, save healthcare agencies millions worldwide, as well as disrupt a growing $8 billion market.” Previous success with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant, as well as a $1 million NSW Medical Devices Fund grant helped to fund manufacturing and ‘bedroom test’ the device. Now Simon wants to take the GELdom global, and his Fulbright Future Scholarship will help connect him with experts at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. “My career so far has been built around collaboration and communication – as you’d imagine, it takes a very multidisciplinary and diverse group of people to develop and deliver an idea like a next-generation condom. New places and people make for new opportunities that you might not even realise at the time.” The hydrogel condom is a leading example of the power of collaborative research and knowledge, as the project has already drawn in experts from various sectors, disciplines, and universities.
“Project GELdom has been successful so far because it is a real collaboration between two universities, University of Wollongong and Swinburne University. Our project leader Robert Gorkin, myself and the team have spent a lot of time drawing in experts, advisors, collaborators, stakeholders, industry partners and other researchers to help make this concept become a reality, and we don’t plan on stopping that strategy any time soon.” Their work looks set to revolutionise the contraceptive industry, not only improving the efficacy of birth control technology, but actually redefining our understanding of what safe sex is.
Producing a condom that people actually want to use would revolutionise the definition of safe sexâ€?
Image: University of Woollongong
AUTOMATIC IMMUNITY ATHINA MANAKAS
A CREEPING KILLER
hronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is a slow-growing form of leukaemia that affects specialised white blood cells, turning them malignant and essentially causing the body’s own antibodies to interfere with blood cell production. It is the most common form of leukaemia in the Western world, yet there is currently no cure for patients with relapsed or refractory disease, and the toxicity of available treatments such as chemotherapy causes mortality to spike in older and more vulnerable sufferers. Fulbright Future Scholar and PhD candidate at The University of Sydney Athina Manakas believes that by using novel reagents, a patient’s own immune system can be recruited to specifically target and kill cancerous cells, drastically reducing damage to healthy cells and thus minimising harmful side effects.
Athina’s interest in immunotherapies is driven by a strong desire to help others by translating science into beneficial applications. The practical problem-solving aspects of lab work spurred an appetite for knowledge in Athina, as each new challenge was another Gordian knot for her to untangle. “I enjoyed the complexity of biochemistry, because it felt like a puzzle to solve. This appetite to learn allowed me to pursue my academic goals and get as much laboratory experience as I could throughout my degree.” She applied her new alchemical expertise to help design and synthesise pharmaceuticals for treating serious, debilitating conditions. Learning of the destruction that incurable disease can wreak in patients and families served to further strengthen Athina’s resolve.
“In my senior year, I did a small research project on drug design for glioblastoma, an incurable brain cancer. I was deeply affected while reading the literature about glioblastoma, where current available therapies could only extend the life of patients for a few months. "I came to appreciate the devastation cancer causes patients and families and I felt compelled to devote my career, and love of science, to helping develop cutting-edge drug therapies for cancer. “During my honours year, I read about a man with melanoma who was cured with immunotherapy - I was so fascinated and moved by the power of immunotherapy and the leaps and bounds it has made to patient outcomes, that I took on a project that involved working on producing a novel immunotherapy for CLL.”
Athina's research focuses on harnessing the body's own immune system to help fight cancer cells
Athina didn’t stop at an honours degree though, and the lack of specialised researchers looking into targeted immunotherapies encouraged her to continue down this untrodden path. “I enjoyed the engineering aspect of my project to produce a new drug therapy, and I was so excited by the potential it could have to help someone, that I decided to stay on to do a PhD. "No one else in my lab was working on this or had any expertise in the area, but I was attracted to the challenge and felt comfortable taking charge and blazing the trail. “Immunotherapy has made huge leaps and bounds in the landscape of cancer therapy. The interplay of immune system and antibody therapeutics not only interests me from a scientific standpoint, but to see the difference it has made to patient outcomes and tolerability of treatment is really exciting.”
COURTING CLL COLLABORATIONS
Athina’s Fulbright Future Scholarship will enable her to work with like-minded scientists at The Scripps Research Institute, Florida -- one of the world's largest independent, not-for-profit organisations focusing on research in the biomedical sciences. Her goal is to create bilateral collaborations on new immunotherapeutic treatments, and she has been invited to work in the lab of renowned biochemist and immunologist, Associate Professor Christoph Rader. This won’t be Athina’s first trip to the U.S. though – just two years ago she presented her PhD research in New York City, at the International Workshop for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia.
“Presenting in NYC was transformative for my career and my life. I exchanged advice with many American PhD students, and speaking with them made me feel like a representative for the Australian scientific and general community. “My ultimate aim is to translate my novel immunotherapeutic for patients with CLL, and the chance for my PhD project and future research to change cancer patient outcomes keeps me inspired. "To be able to do this in the U.S. alongside equally-passionate people is a dream come true and will allow us to work together to make a real and tangible difference in cancer therapy.”
These breast cancer cells were grown in Athina's lab to help test antibody-derivatives. The blue stain highlights the cell nucleus (to find the cells) and the green stain is one of the antibody-derivatives binding the cancer cell surface.
To be able to do this in the U.S. alongside equally-passionate people is a dream come true, and will allow us to work together to make a real difference in cancer therapy.â€?
At the start of the year we launched a photo competition, asking Fulbright Scholars and alumni to send us photos that encapsulate their Fulbright experiences, giving rise to the hashtag..
Nick Maraventano - “..an incredible intercultural travel and study experience.” #ThisIsFulbright
#ThisIsF James Peyla - “I am overwhelmed by the majesty of the Australian landscape.." #ThisIsFulbright
James Hill - “A Fulbright can really change your perspective..” #ThisIsFulbright
Mark Squillace - “My Fulb '93, but it has opened man the years.” #ThisIsFulbrig
David Bishop “Making the most of the cultural exchange.." #ThisIsFulbright
Paul Harpur - “I am very excited, enthused, and quite honestly humbled..” #ThisIsFulbright
Fulbright Karri Neldner - “..the beating heart of America in its natural beauty.” #ThisIsFulbright
Jessa Thurman - “This master of camouflage has only been found 3 times in the wild!” #ThisIsFulbright
bright was way back in ny doors for me over ght
Matt Thompson “We volunteered, repurposing landfill to help rebuild houses destroyed by Hurricane Katrina." #ThisIsFulbright
Joint-winner - Jess Kretzmann | 2018 Postgraduate Scholar | Nanotechnology (The University of Western Australia to University of Massachusetts, Amherst): “‘Reflecting’ on the past 8 months in the U.S. thanks to Fulbright. Looking forward for what the future has to bring!” #ThisIsFulbright Coyote Buttes, AZ
Joint-winner - Lily van Eeden | 2018 New South Wales Scholar | Human-Wildlife Conflict (The University of Sydney to The University of Washington): â€œSnow-shoeing my six-month pregnant belly into Yellowstone to find wolf-killed elk carcasses with students from UWA. I study the human dimensions of conflict with large predators. "Gray wolf management is one of the most topical and political wildlife management issues in North America, so visiting the site of their controversial reintroduction ~25 years ago was an essential part of my journey.â€? #ThisIsFulbright Yellowstone National Park, WY
Runner-up - Dr James Hamilton | 2019 Fulbright Future Scholar | Renewable Energy Technologies (University of Tasmania to University of Hawaii, Manoa): â€œDoing the evening rounds at the UTAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Power Systems. In 2019 I'll travel to the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute as a Fulbright Scholar to investigate renewable / diesel pairing systems.â€? #ThisIsFulbright White Hills Wind Farm, NZ
Measuring Athletic Identity Turner Block
In the spring of my senior year at university, I was granted a Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship to conduct research at the IPC Classification Research Centre located at The University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. I spent ten months completing my scholarship by working with Senior Lecturer Eimear Enright and Associate Professor Sean Tweedy. This research involved collaborating with Para START (Sport Training and Research Team), who developed a performance-focused swim training program for young adults with cerebral palsy who have high support needs.
This was the first study to conduct longitudinal research on athletic identity formation amongst young adults with cerebral palsy who have high support needs as they transition from being inactive to fully involved in a performance-focused swim training program.
The Athletic Identity Measurement Scale (AIMS) was also distributed to the participants before each training session by one of the sport trainers.
I conducted semi-structured interviews with the participants to provide insight into their past experiences of sport as well as capturing key moments during the program that influence a personâ€™s constructions of themselves as an athlete. Additionally, I conducted interviews with the parents and sport trainers of the participants to develop a triangulated viewpoint of their journey through the program.
The participants were actively involved in sharing their experiences and in interpreting the data that resulted from the measure. The research conducted at UQ suggested that there is still a prevalent stigma which positions sport as less important for young adults with physical disabilities.
This study, first and foremost, sought to value the stories behind the data.
Kunal and Nate are both participants in UQ's Para START Program (image courtesy UQ)
The purpose of this study was to further the discussion on athletic identity formation within populations who have congenital disabilities. Furthermore, this research aimed to emphasize the influence of the created environment on athletic identity formation. This includes individualized training, invested sport trainers. and the development of a team environment. The semi-structured interviews captured the experiences of a population that is frequently disregarded within a sporting context. Participants expressed themes within their narratives of exclusionary experiences in the classroom and physical education.
However, the continued efforts to investigate the stories of Para athletes will provide evidentiary support of the immense value sport holds for young adults with disabilities. The Fulbright Program provided me the opportunity to immerse myself in another culture and to work with a population that is too often overlooked and under-researched. These past ten months have taught me about the potential research has to prioritize voices that have been historically silenced and the power to influence equitable policy changes, as well as shape inclusive environments.
Turner Block | 2017 Fulbright Scholar | Sport Psychology Fordham University The University of Queensland Turner earned her BS in psychology at Fordham University located in the Bronx, New York in 2017. She spent her four years at Fordham as a member of the womenâ€™s soccer team and was named cptain for her senior season. Off the field, she was a research assistant on numerous studies for the Department of Psychology.
Additionally, she completed her honors thesis on athlete pre-screening mental health measures and their perceptions of the mental health services offered. Turner continued her research while at the School of Human Movement Studies at The University of Queensland. Her specific focus was the athletic identity formation of Paralympic swimmers with cerebral palsy as they complete a performancefocused training program.
Breaking The Drought Simon Jankowski
My Fulbright program at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) California Water Science Centre has been an incredibly enriching experience both personally and professionally. I have been focused on a regional hydrologic assessment utilising aquifer replenishment techniques to improve drought tolerance within California’s Central Valley. This research is particularly prescient in a state with the most variable precipitation and streamflow in the U.S., a changing climate and a chronic groundwater overdraft of 0.6-3.5 cubic kilometre per year. This combination of factors is not unique to the U.S., unsustainable water practices and climate change define huge challenges for water availability in Mediterranean climates across the world. Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) represents a key tool to allow groundwater banking as a buffer against droughts in California and across the world. My unique position as a foreign Fulbright Postgraduate Researcher within this federal agency afforded me privileged access to leading expertise across hydrologic, environmental and geologic fields.
I worked between the Sacramento and San Diego offices allowing me the opportunity to collaborate and socialise with these professionals on a daily basis (and get in the occasional surf), in order to build a methodology for testing MAR’s potential to mitigate land subsidence within USGS hydrologic models. I have tried to meet as many people as possible on this scholarship year to learn about U.S. perspectives, promote sustainable water practice and provide the research findings for best impact. I networked with professionals from across the sector at conferences and water education events both from a Californian and Australian system perspective and have spoken on panels at conferences on Managed Aquifer Recharge. One of the most rewarding experiences has been delivering ‘brown-bag’ presentations to groups throughout the year. One was skyping to kids across the U.S. and Canada on World Water Day via the ‘Explore by the Seat of your Pants’ program, who were fascinated by Australia’s outback wildlife!
Beyond the focused world of Californian water, my personal and professional networks were enriched by a Fulbright entrepreneurship workshop at the University of Utah, and at an interdisciplinary Complexity Systems Summer School at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico. The summer school at the Santa Fe Institute was an eye-opening and career-defining experience: working with a group of extremely bright interdisciplinary scientists and graduate students from around the world in an intensive four-week introduction to complex behaviour in mathematical, physical, living and social systems. The international speakers that came to present were inspiring and I deeply valued the opportunity to think more broadly about how my own scientific research can be enhanced with a multidisciplinary approach.
I collaborated on developing novel research in two projects: “Modelling Intergenerational Epigenetic Manifestations from stress” using an agent-based modelling approach and “Automated Opinion Analysis of Online Conversations” using deep learning tools. For anyone interested in investigating the wacky nonlinear and chaotic aspects within their research; the complexity school is a MUST-DO! I am deeply grateful and humbled by the experience of the Fulbright Scholarship. I have been on an exponential growth journey and words actually can’t articulate how fulfilling and enriching this experience has been for me. I have made a lifetime of contacts, friends and connections over a short-period in the U.S., have three ongoing project collaborations and I look forward to nurturing and sharing these networks with colleagues within Australia. On our last day in Sacramento, my longsuffering partner (who commuted from Sydney five times throughout the year) and I tied the knot. The coriander bouquet was a throwback to the first time we met, at the fresh produce section of a Perth supermarket.
Simon Jankowski | 2017 Fulbright Scholar | Hydrogeology The University of Western Australia USGS Californian Water Science Center Simon was a Master’s of Hydrogeology student at the University of Western Australia, focused on regional groundwater management strategies. His Fulbright Scholarship took him to the USGS Californian Water Science Center head office in Sacramento.
Simon’s research focused on modelling regional-scale aquifer replenishment techniques within the Central Valley California to improve drought tolerance. California’s Central Valley is a $20b agricultural precinct reliant on groundwater irrigation during periods of drought. His findings can help inform comparable Australian systems, and he now seeks to apply this research internationally – specifically within developing regions in order to encourage sustainable water management practices.
SEASONAL VISTAS TORI REYNOLDS
Washington Gulch, Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, Colorado
Tori Reynolds' Fulbright work with DNA metabarcoding has helped improve our understanding of how insect pollinators are foraging in agroecosystems around the world. Her Fulbright research took her to some of the most spectacular, biodiverse seasonal vistas in the U.S.
"Spring is a time for new life, a breath of fresh air. My Fulbright experience gave me so many opportunities to just stop and enjoy the beautiful world around me. It's important to relax and take in the abundance of life." - Tori Reynolds
Yosemite National Park, California
"The verdant landscape surrounding the Rocky Mountain Biology Laboratory, where I was lucky enough to spend the Summer doing fieldwork, is as visually stunning as it is rich in flora -- an ideal setting to forage for pollen." - Tori Reynolds
Virginia Basin, RMBL, Colorado
North Pole Basin, RMBL, Colorado
Kebler Pass, Colorado
"Autumn drapes Colorado in a fiery cape of amber, scarlet and saffron. "This is my favourite season -- the crunch of russet leaves; the redolent scent of fresh rain and loam." - Tori Reynolds
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
"The peaks and crevasses of Oregon's Crater Lake wear an ivory blanket from November to June. Yet this frozen Winter tundra sustains a surprisingly rich cornucopia of life." - Tori Reynolds
North Pole Basin, Colorado
Victoria Reynolds | 2017 Fulbright Scholar | Plant Ecology The University of Queensland Emory University Tori is a PhD student with the School of Biological Sciences at The University of Queensland, with a joint affiliation with CSIRO. For her Fulbright Scholarship, Tori worked in the Environmental Science Department of Emory University helping to develop a standardised protocol for quantifying insect-collected pollen using DNA metabarcoding techniques. The outcomes of this project have helped improve our understanding of plant-pollinator interactions, with particular applications for the complex mosaic of agricultural landscapes that dominate most of the planet today.
Tori also spent time developing a research network of American and Australian scientists at the forefront of insect pollination research, through collaborative research and academic enquiry. Today, Tori's work continues to expand our understanding of how pollinators are foraging in agroecosystems around the world. This is a key area of research for the future of agricultural production and biodiversity conservation.
Your Fulbright mission: Stop nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands The stakes could not be higher, but this academic wouldn’t have it any other way. Associate Professor Aiden Warren has ventured deep into the complex web of politics and national security, arms control deals and international law to convince the United States to embrace leadership on nuclear nonproliferation before it’s too late. His mission has taken him from RMIT’s School of Global, Urban and Social Studies to leading universities and think tanks across the U.S, all the way to Congress and the White House.
He was also exposed to ACA’s fast-paced, academically rigorous and cutting-edge approaches to policy research. “What impressed me most was their capacity to impact policy, policy makers, public debates and the broader security discourse,” he says.
“It sometimes feels quite surreal having conversations and meetings with such high levels of people in DC, but you have to remember the issues relating to nuclear insecurity are very real and the future of global security is at stake,” he says.
As Washington insiders debated modernising the U.S. nuclear arsenal, the collapse of coldwar era nuclear arms treaties with Russia, the pageantry of the second North Korea summit, the ratcheting up of Iran sanctions and Trump’s controversial Missile Defense Review, Warren had a front row seat.
Aiden's Fulbright Scholarship research highlights the risks of nation-states modernising and sustaining their nuclear arsenals rather than reducing them.
He says the conversations he witnessed and what he uncovered during more than 50 in-depth research interviews with high-level figures was sobering.
Importantly, it also focuses on ways to turn that trend around.
“Despite so much work on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, the risks of nuclear war have actually expanded,” he says.
He’s just returned from five months in the U.S, based at a leading think tank on arms control and non-proliferation policy, the Arms Control Association (ACA). He says if politics is all about who you know, then ACA is the place to be in Washington, DC.
“As well as introducing me to leading analysts on nuclear disarmament, ACA opened doors for me to meet high level contacts at the State Department, Department of Defense, Congress and the White House,” Warren says.
“More nation states in more unstable regions than ever before have attained such weapons. Meanwhile terrorists continue to pursue them, and the command and control systems in even the most sophisticated nucleararmed states remain susceptible to not only system and human error but, increasingly, to cyber-attack.”
As the appetite for nuclear weapons grows, the nonproliferation treaty (NPT) – universally recognised as the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and one of the most important pillars of international security – is under threat. Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has played a circuit-breaker role in the global non-proliferation regime: its leadership has been critical to the success or failure of virtually every nonproliferation and disarmament initiative that has been launched, including within the NPT review process. “Even with Trump in power, we are still in a window where what U.S. experts and practitioners think and do matters most to the future of the non-proliferation regime,” Warren says. “But global security shifts mean that the window is starting to close. While it still remains open there is perhaps one last chance for the U.S. to take strong leadership on non-proliferation and disarmament for the good of us all. “The new Nuclear Posture Review, compounded with Trump’s disdain for arms control treaties, has the potential to negatively impact the positive role that the United States can and must play in moving toward a world without nuclear weapons and sustaining the NPT.” Aiden sees his research as his chance to do his bit: while interviewing high level policy makers across Congress and the White House he's conveyed his concerns and those of other non-nuclear armed states in the region, and presented strong arguments for ensuring the NPT survives these times of trouble.
Now back at RMIT University, Warren continues this work with his Washington DC connections, particularly those at ACA and George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. With the window for positive action closing fast and the stakes as high as any, Aiden's is a mission of the utmost urgency.
By Michael Quin, RMIT Newsroom Originally published by RMIT News Images: (left) Aiden with his ACA colleagues; (above) in front of Georgetown University; with fellow Fulbright Scholars at a Fulbright Enrichment Seminar in North Carolina.
The Princeton Paradox
Iâ€™m sure that in the coming months and years the full effect of my Fulbright experience will become apparent. Right now, only days after returning to Australia, I have not developed a greater comprehension of it all. However, I will try to provide an account nonetheless. My time in the United States taught me to be a better friend. Princeton is a tidy university town. There is little to do except study or work in an environment that demands the best. After two months of long days and loneliness, I befriended a group of postgraduate students. These people were wonderful. They accepted me for who I was, and I for them, and we quickly developed an atmosphere of support for each other.
Our support for each other was proportional to the demands of the university on ourselves. This short (but ongoing!) friendship has empowered me with the knowledge that I can build nurturing relationships wherever I find myself in the coming years. An important lesson, given the international movements of aspiring academics today.
More widely though, I developed a deeper understanding of the United States that, in turn, taught me more about Australia. I came to know more deeply the American people and through the people, the nation itself. I learned that the United States is full of pride and shame, beauty and violence, ambition and destitution; hypocrisy.
The paradoxes of the United States are often painfully obvious. However, the U.S. is no more hypocritical than Australia or any other country. Its sheer size and global presence simply magnifies its contradictions. Australia’s own contradictions are no less obscene, just subject to less scrutiny. These new insights forced me to reassess my own identity. First, I was confronted with my privilege: I am a white, male scientist who finds pleasure in both work and life. It was shocking to observe myself next to those who are destitute. Second, I was confronted with my own disadvantage. My field of research is controlled by a select group of senior scientists, all of whom have developed from distinct lineages within the U.S.
The progression of my field is therefore inexorably tied to scientists who share similar ideas and views. I took offense to this reality because of the injustice to the thousands who develop their ideas separate from these lineages. My origins from Australia are middle class and would have disadvantaged my career, had I not inserted myself into the Ivy League fold. Privilege is a continuum, and I saw it more clearly than ever before. I expect that all Fulbrighters who travel to the U.S. are impressed with mixed feelings about the country and themselves. It offers so much opportunity for those who can take advantage.
Pearse Buchanan | 2017 Fulbright Scholar | Biological Oceanography University of Tasmania Princeton University Pearse is a PhD candidate at the University of Tasmania. He is interested in defining how the ocean has responded to, and driven climate change in the past through exploring the complex interaction between ocean physics and biogeochemistry.
Pearse’s Fulbright project focused on the oceanic nitrogen cycle, which forms an essential component of the ocean’s weighty role in the climate system. Past variations in nitrogen are tell-tale signs of changes in ocean productivity, and therefore whether the ocean acted as a net contributor, or consumer of greenhouse gases. Pearse research took him to the Sigman Lab at Princeton University to explore how past changes in the oceanic nitrogen cycle affected the air-sea exchange of two major greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O).
Making the Most of Massachusetts Jessica Kretzmann
I started my Fulbright journey already a third-year PhD student, planning to spend 8 months in the Rotello Lab at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
I have had time to self-reflect and re-think many things about my approach to work and to life, and through that I believe I have grown enormously as a researcher and a leader.
I had been to the U.S. a few times before, for holidays and conferences, and while I expected to learn a lot research-wise, never did I expect my time living in the U.S. to have such a profound impact on me professionally and personally.
My Fulbright project was focussed on the development of gene delivery agents, where the therapeutics are in the form of protein (rather than the DNA or RNA precursors).
Working at UMass in a large, multicultural lab, I have learnt so much about communication, team work and respect.
I have learnt a vast number of new techniques, as well as fundamental insights into protein delivery using synthetic delivery agents. This work has also established collaboration between UMass and my home university, which will maintain the mutual dissemination of knowledge and skills.
However, all of this has come with a lot of fun on the side! I thoroughly enjoyed the Three County Fair, where I got to watch a school bus demolition derby, cheer on piglets as they raced, and eaten far too many deep-fried chocolate bars. They even had some familiar faces – an Australian exhibition with some of our wonderful critters. I have subtly been introducing the lab members to Aussie slang, and can proudly say that for some of them their “Hi”/”Good morning” has turned into a “s’garn on?”. I can also proudly claim that for many of the lab members, I was the first to introduce them to an Aussie Christmas pavlova.
I have learnt so much about American history, culture and politics. It’s truly a fascinating country! Being so close to Boston I have been lucky enough to see a lot of the historical sights, and I have even thrown tea into the Boston Harbour in support of American Independence! I attended a Fulbright Enrichment Seminar on Entrepreneurial Development in Utah. My fellow Fulbrighters came from over 70 different countries and together we saw and learnt about Salt Lake City, and participated in fascinating discussions and inspiring panel discussions.
I visited Weber State University, and had dinner with the university's president and dean, as well as some outstanding students. This seminar opened my eyes to the entrepreneurial mindset in Utah, it became clear that with the right leadership whole communities can be developed to believe and support technology, growth and entrepreneurship. Coming home is bittersweet as I will have to say some difficult goodbyes to some amazing people, but I am also ready to see my loved ones and to finally defrost from the longest winter I have ever experienced!
Jessica Kretzmann | 2018 Fulbright Scholar | Nanotechnology The University of Western Australia University of Massachusetts, Amherst Jessica is a PhD student at The University of Western Australia (UWA) and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research (HPIMR) in Perth. Jessica’s research is aimed at the design and development of medically-translatable technologies for targeted genome engineering as a novel treatment strategy for breast cancers.
For her Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship, Jessica worked with Professor Vincent Rotello at the University of Massachusetts, to develop nanoscale delivery agents that are programmed to enhance the body’s own immune response to combat cancers. At UMass,Jessica worked to optimise methods to deliver therapeutic proteins to macrophage cells, which are a key component of the immune system, and have a dual role influencing tumour growth and progression.
Down 2......The prevention of an increase or spread of something, especially nuclear weaponry. 3......Something that combines contradictory features or qualities. 5......Of, or relating to, the brain or the intellect. 10.....A milky fluid found in many plants, such as poppies and spurges, which exudes when the plant is cut and coagulates on exposure to the air.
1......A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome - see eg. the latest season of Game of Thrones. 4......The scientific study of the properties, distribution, and effects of water as a liquid, solid, or gas on the Earth's surface, in the soil and underlying rocks, and in the atmosphere. 6......Meringue-based cake of disputed Australian/New Zealand origin, named after a Russian ballerina. 7......Concerning the role of genetics in the development and function of the nervous system. 8.....The the prevention or treatment of disease through substances that stimulate an immune response. 9.....An animal that moves fertilising elements from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma of a flower.
December Solutions: Down: 1. Los Angeles 2. Portugal 4. Ziggurat 5. Organic 6. Harp Across: 3. Aesop 7. Paris Hilton 8. Snotted
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The first issue of Fulbright Minds & Hearts for 2019 explores the impact-focused research and aspirations of four of the new Fulbright Futur...
Published on Apr 30, 2019
The first issue of Fulbright Minds & Hearts for 2019 explores the impact-focused research and aspirations of four of the new Fulbright Futur...